The LDAF anticipates at least $406,749.14 to be allocated to fund Louisiana projects.

The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) is now accepting applications for the 2018 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP), Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., announced today.

Applications must be received no later than close of business (4:30 p.m.) April 23.

The LDAF will administer the grant program funded through the United States Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA-AMS). The LDAF anticipates at least $406,749.14 to be allocated to fund Louisiana projects.

The grants are to be used for projects that solely enhance the competitiveness of Louisiana-grown specialty crops like fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, Christmas trees, turf grass/sod, nursery and greenhouse crops.

Applicants must reside in or their organization or educational affiliation must be in Louisiana. All applicants are required to obtain a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number and include that number on their application.

Grant funds will not be awarded for projects that directly benefit a particular commercial product or provide a profit to a single organization, institution or individual. Projects should focus on issues to help improve specialty crop industries as a whole such as: distribution, production, research, market development, food safety, promotion and education. Individual farms are not eligible to apply; however, producer associations, state and/or local organization, state or local governments, qualified educational institutions, non-profits and other specialty crop stakeholders are eligible recipients.

LDAF will accept grant applications with a yearly budget value of up to $100,000. Grants can be awarded for projects lasting up to two years and 11 months.

Once the deadline has passed, all applications submitted to the LDAF will be carefully evaluated to determine if the projects are qualified based on the criteria listed in the guidelines. All submitted project applications deemed qualified will be reviewed and scored by a panel consisting of industry stakeholders, and the panel will make funding recommendations to LDAF. All LDAF approved projects will be incorporated into one state grant request, which will be submitted to the USDA.

LDAF has prepared a Request for Applications (RFA) document detailing application instructions, scoring criteria, federal forms, project format examples and other helpful information from the USDA. The document may be found at www.LDAF.la.gov. Click on the 2018 Specialty Crop alert.

A complete list of eligible specialty crops may be found at http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/scbgpdefinitions.

For more information, contact Michelle Estay, director of Commodity Promotion and Research at 985-345-9483.

Contributed by LDAF